“With one blow he was executed in this pyre.”

“With one blow he was executed in this pyre.”

Visitors to Tom Godeau’s funeral take shelter from Hamas rockets among the graves after air raid sirens sound.Photo by Matan Golan for Volkskrant

Just as Jacob Godeau had almost finished delivering his son Tom’s eulogy, the air raid sirens sounded. All two hundred visitors to the funeral lie on the ground and use the tombstones as a cover. It can be heard from afar how the Israeli Air Force shot down two rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

The same Gaza Strip from which the Hama terrorists arrived more than a week ago to sow death and destruction among the residents of Israeli villages and kibbutzim. In one of them, Kissufim, Tom Godeau, a 52-year-old IT professional, lived with his wife, Limor, and their three daughters, Tzof (4), Given (6), and Rumi (11).

About the author
Rob Frekin is Türkiye and Iran correspondent De Volkskrant. He lives in Istanbul. Before that, he worked in the foreign newsroom, where he specialized in human rights, South Asia and the Middle East. He is an author An idolatrous function – Erdogan and the failed Islamization of Turkey.

The terrorists were around the house, and the family had retreated to the shelter room. Everywhere they heard gunshots and other sounds of war. At about seven-thirty on Sunday morning, after twenty-four anxious hours, the attackers were just beyond the door of the hiding room. To keep it closed, the latch had to be permanently attached. Tom did it. While Lemur and the girls were escaping the house through the window, Tom died from a bullet that penetrated the armored door.

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Now, almost a week later, Tom has been buried on Kibbutz Nan, 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, where he was born. The funeral takes place according to Jewish traditions, but not strictly so. The Godeau family is leftist and secular. This way, the rabbi doesn’t tear the shirts of Jacob and Tom, Lee’s brother. Visitors dress casually, and only a few hoods can be seen. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer – The Godfather” is written on someone’s black t-shirt.

“Look at the profession in the eye”

Father Godot also wears a black shirt with white letters. “Look into the eyes of the occupation” is the text, the name of the organization to which 74-year-old Godot belongs. The Activists Club protects residents of Palestinian villages in the West Bank who are being intimidated by settlers in illegal settlement outposts. Patients are also transferred from the occupied territories to hospitals in Israel. “Human rights activist,” is what Father Godot calls himself.

When he delivers his “eulogy,” as he calls it, he stands in his activist shirt at his son’s grave, a flower-covered mound of reddish-brown earth. Next to her stands daughter-in-law Lemur, and granddaughter Romy. The two young boys, Tsov and Jevin, are too traumatized to attend their father’s funeral.

Impressive eulogy

In his moving eulogy, Godeau first quotes the pledge written by Abraham Schlonsky in 1943, when the first testimonies of the Holocaust began to emerge. Then he jumps to the new Holocaust, the one that happened last week around Gaza. “In one cruel stroke, our eldest and beloved son Tom was executed in this pyre. And now I stand at his grave immersed in the darkness of Hanoch Levin’s hideous prophecy. This is what the poet and playwright born in the same year 1943 wrote:

My dear father, you are standing at my grave / old, tired and lost / and you see them burying my body in the dirt / and you are standing over me, father. / Don’t stand there so proud / And don’t hold your head up high, father / We stay now, flesh to flesh / Now it’s time to cry, father.

Let your eyes weep for my eyes, / Do not be silent in my honor, / Something that was more important than honor / Now lies at your feet, my father. / And do not say that you made a sacrifice / Because I am the one who sacrificed / And do not say any more resonant words / Because I am lying now, my father.

My dear father, as you stand at my grave / old, tired and lost / when you see them burying my body in the dirt / ask forgiveness for me, father.

“Tom was killed while fighting bravely for hours for the lives of Lemur, Rumi, Tsouf, and Given,” Godeau said. With her unimaginable ingenuity and courage, Lemur managed to free herself and her daughters from this hell and bring them to safety. Tom was killed in a brave battle, while infants, children, women and the elderly were killed around him in the Gaza area.

Jacob Godot:

Jacob Godeau: “Tom was killed while bravely fighting for the lives of Lemur, Rumi, Tsouf, and Giffen for hours.”Photo by Matan Golan for Volkskrant

Then the speech takes a noticeable political turn. Godot (without mentioning his name) points to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government as being primarily responsible for the massacre. The Hamas militants were “loyal messengers of a cursed, messianic and corrupt government, consisting of an accused master criminal and his helpless followers, without any political horizon and vision, who abandoned the lives of kidnapped hostages.” He says that since Monday, there has been a “violent exodus of Judeo-Christian terrorism, striking at the heart and soul of Palestinian communities in the West Bank.”

Air raid sirens

Then the air raid siren sounds. Everyone backs down, including Jacob Godeau. Some lie next to their parents’ tombstones. After a few minutes everyone wakes up again.

Godot then delivers the final words of his eulogy. “At the end of this hellish situation, after the stables have been completely cleaned out and the sun has risen again, I will come to your grave, dear, dear Tom, and ask you to rest in peace. You are set free.

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